The Department of Conservation has removed the area of caution around the summit area of Mt Ruapehu due to a reduction in Volcanic Alert Level to normal. The Department has removed the advice not to enter the crater basin area, camp anywhere in the summit craters or travel in the floors of the upper parts of valleys draining the crater basin. This removes the area of caution advised by DOC in May. As before, normal operations continue for visitors to all areas outside the summit craters and upper valleys.
GNS Science issued a Volcanic Alert Bulletin on 11 May raising the Volcanic Alert Level from 1 to 2 (elevated volcanic unrest) due to heating of the Crater Lake and other associated indicators of increased volcanic unrest. They continued to monitor the volcano closely and on 17 May issued a second Bulletin noting early signs the heating might have peaked.
On 5 July GNS Science issued a further bulletin lowering the Volcanic Alert Level for Mt Ruapehu to 1 (minor volcanic unrest) noting the decrease in gas emission and volcanic tremor to normal levels. VAL 1 is the normal level for the mountain. People away from the volcano were never affected by the now-cancelled advisory, and visitors were not being warned to stay away from the mountain. “The public at all three ski areas, roads and areas surrounding the mountain were not, and are not, affected” says Paul Carr, Tongariro National Park Operations Manager for Public Safety.
“Full winter conditions now exist on the mountain. People going above the park’s road ends should be fully equipped with alpine clothing, crampons and ice axe, know how to use them and take account of the weather forecast” he said.The level of unrest at Mt Ruapehu is continually monitored by GNS Science through the GeoNet project. The aim is to ensure any changes in the volcanic state are detected at the earliest possible time and communicated to DOC and RAL so appropriate procedures can be put in place.